by Yash Joshi

The story of Tibet, unfortunately, has been grossly ignored as China invaded a peaceful region and forcefully made its province and for decades has been carrying out unspeakable human rights violations. While Hong Kong at least gets international media coverage and Macau economic prosperity, Tibet, unfortunately, gets nothing and remains to be ignored.

At a time when the US-China relations are rapidly deteriorating, a glimmer of hope has risen for Tibet after 70 years as American lawmaker, Scott Perry has introduced a bill which seeks to recognise Tibet as an independent country. The bill is a glimpse of the west trying to correct a historic blunder.

US Representative Scott Perry has tabled a bill in the US Congress which seeks to “authorise the President to recognise Tibet the Autonomous Region of the Republic of China as a separate, independent country”.

There is no doubt that this move will irk China however, it will also end up correcting one of the West’s major follies. While the world was pushing to integrate China and help the nation diplomatically, it was invading Tibet in 1949 and was successful in completing occupation of Tibet 10 years later in 1959 under the rule of the tyrant, Mao Zedong.

In March 1959, Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political head of Tibetan people sought sanctuary in Dharmsala, Himachal Pradesh, and established the ‘Tibetan Government in Exile’, a move that deeply infuriated China.

Since the Chinese occupation, Tibet has suffered unspeakable atrocities as from 1958 to 1962, Mao and his government in their quest for cultural revolution, killed more than 10 lakh Tibetans and destroyed 6,000 Buddhist monasteries.

Since the 1960s, the Chinese government has made great efforts to change the ethnic composition of the region inhabited by Tibetan people. Millions of Han Chinese were sent to live, marry, and establish a family with ethnic Tibetans. This demographic takeover was done in the name of the integration of Tibet in mainland China. The same model is now followed by the CCP to deal with the Uighur Muslims.

Such is the Chinese control over the Tibetan monks that they aren’t allowed to travel anywhere without permission from the government and can be arrested for as little as “reactionary” ring-tones. Tibetan monks have tried to protest the atrocities by heart-wrenching self-immolation protests, but to little avail. In what is now a regular occurrence, hundreds of Tibetan monks are picked up by the Chinese authorities, never to return. Forced abortions, sterilisation, and infanticide were carried out in the area on an everyday basis. The Chinese government has been accused of carrying out the ‘physical, cultural, natural, and economic genocide’ of the region. The Chinese government is also trying to reshape Tibetan Buddhism and homogenise it with Buddhism practices in mainland China.

It is no wonder that for the last 3 years in a row, US think-tank Freedom House ranked Tibet among the worst places in the world because of the denial of freedom.

For the uninitiated, the Panchen Lama is one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism, second only to the Dalai Lama himself. The previous Panchen Lama (Lobsang Trinley Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen) spoke out against Chinese rule many times and wrote a report chronicling Tibet’s famines in the 1960s. As a result, he spent more than eight years in jail and died in suspicious circumstances in 1989.

In what can be interpreted as an attempt of rewriting the Bible, In 1995, as the list of probable candidates for the next Panchen Lama was sent to the Dalai Lama who continues to live in exile in India, Dalai Lama announced that Gedhun had been recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama. Unsurprisingly, exactly two days later, the Chinese government abducted the child and his family. None of them has ever been seen or heard from again.

Fast forward six months and the Chinese government announced Gyaltsen Norbu as the next Panchen Lama who incidentally also happened to be the son of two Communist Party members. Gyaltsen continues to stay in Beijing and has rarely visited Tibet.

25 years on, China also claims that the boy destined to be the Panchen Lama is a graduate and has a ‘stable job’.

The 14th Dalai Lama is aware that China is going to use a Communist version of the spiritual leader to control the Tibetan masses, and he has contemplated ending the whole tradition all together. Because of this we may never have a 15th Dalai Lama.

China has registered its protests whenever The Dalai Lama is hosted by any country, be it in India or anywhere else in the west like the UK. Countries have even cancelled meetings with him so as to not sour relations with China.

While India could have done more to help the Tibetans and their cause, it has arguably helped them a lot by establishing a Tibetan government in exile in Himachal Pradesh. Back then, India was not in a strong position to tackle China over Tibet especially after the 1962 war. The West, on the other hand, could have forced China to behave and respect Tibet’s autonomy but they couldn’t care less.

The West was complicit in China’s invasion, and had remained complicit if not for a China-made pandemic and Trump’s entry into the American political scene. The West’s ignorance and the Chinese Communist Party’s core beliefs have led to the destruction of a great religion and community. The story of Tibet needs to be told.